Sunday, February 16, 2014

Turn the other cheek

Pippy is the best teacher. She doesn't need words, she teaches by example. Today I was back in the life lesson classroom with Pippy, my beloved teacher and dog.  
This afternoon Pippy and I went out on one of our daily walks. Today was cold but windless which made our walk pleasant. It's the wind that really puts a damper on our walks. But today it wasn't the wind that made the walk difficult, it was the plethora of out-of-control dogs we encountered. 
First we came across a stocky black dog that looked to be some sort of lab mix. He was on a walk with a middle-aged woman who was struggling to keep the over-excited dog on his side of the road. He kept tugging on the leash, growling at Pippy. The woman leaned back and put all her weight behind that leash to keep the dog from running in our direction. I picked up the pace to get past the touchy situation as quickly as possible. Pippy didn't miss a beat. Her little legs began prancing at a faster pace.  She wanted away from that dog as badly as it wanted off its leash. We turned the corner and soon were out of ear shot of the growling beast. 
Little did we know that the next encounter was only a few houses away.
The house came up on our right. Both Pippy and I heard all the dogs before we saw them. A grouping of small black and white dogs with fierce barks and sharp teeth came bolting to the street. At first it seemed that they were safely behind invisible fencing. They all were wearing the special collars that immediately put passerbys at ease. But then one dog neglected the shock of the fencing system and bolted onto the street. I do believe he was the fiercest of the pack because he was growing and charging with the most intensity of the bunch. Although he was small he was still bigger than Pippy and much angrier. 
He kept trying to get at Pippy, showing his sharp teeth all the while. Pippy didn't make a sound but she was obviously frightened. I could tell by the slight tugging on the leashing and darting back and forth between my legs to get as far away as possible. I did as much as I could to stop the dog. I stepped in front of Pippy and scolded the attacker. I charged back at him. I yelled at him to go home! (Making quite a scene, I'm sure)
His owner came out and did some hollering. He never left their yard to come after their escapee-attack animal. Finally the dog gave up. I was in its way and his owner was obviously not pleased with his bully-behavior, so the dog turned around and ran home. 
Pippy was relieved. As we walked away she looked up at me with the most precious and innocent eyes I've ever seen. My little dog would never attack a fly. The cruelest thing she does is destroy dog toys, which are meant to be ripped to shreds anyways, right? Poor Pippy, taunted and harassed at no fault of her own. 
And yet she never fought back. She never even let out as much as a lame attempt at a growl. She is just too kind for that kind of behavior. 
Pippy believes in turning the other cheek. 
Pippy practices the Biblical command to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Okay, so dogs probably don't pray. But you get the point! Even under attack, Pippy wouldn't fight back. She doesn't allow the harassment of another dog change who she is or how she behaves. She simply isn't a fighter and even a vicious neighborhood dog can't change that fact. 

In my walk of life there have been instances where I have come across individuals who don't see eye to eye with me. They don't share my beliefs and faith and they've made that point crystal clear. Have I responded with the humility and grace that Pippy displayed today on our walk? Have I always turned the other cheek or have I fired back in my own defense?
Time for some honesty: I have not always put into practice Matthew 5:39. I have not always turned the other cheek. I've thrown up my defenses. When attacked with caustic words, I've been known to fight back. I certainly have not always displayed the meek and mild attitude of Pippy. 
As a Christian I am bound to come under attack from all different angles. The world doesn't like the Gospel and they abuse it at every opportunity. They mock God and all those who submit to his Kingship. Claim Jesus Christ as the Lord of all the earth, the one and only way to eternal salvation and attacks are sure to follow.
But that doesn't give the Christ follower a pass on fighting back. The scripture still holds true. Jesus' command is still the words to live by: "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." (Matthew 5:39).
Pippy put this scripture into practice today as she resisted the evil attackers on our walk. Inside I'm sure she was shaking in her fur, but on the outside she didn't stoop to the level of fighting back. Pippy simply stood in the confidence that I would protect her. She didn't need to fight back. 
When I am tempted to fight against my attackers I can, like Pippy, turn the other cheek, resting in the knowledge that I am under the protection and care of my Heavenly Father. I don't need to be my own fighter. I don't need to throw any punches or come up with some clever come back. God wants me to let Him be the avenger and judge. He will administer justice. 
In the face of persecution, mocking and abuse I am called to be a Pippy. Stand without returning the attack with a punch or a jab. Stand without waging a counterattack. I am simply to stand in the confidence of God, knowing that He will be my shield and protector even in the midst of the most vicious of attacks. 

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